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Funding growth must accelerate after 2020 to keep pace with demand


By Carolyn Wickware
11 May 2017

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The pace of funding growth for the NHS must accelerate after 2020 and take on a greater share of GDP to keep up with patient demand, the Health Foundation has said.

In one of three reports released by the think tank ahead of the general election, researchers found that the UK economy is expected to grow at an average rate of 2.4% each year, meaning the NHS budget would need to increase by at least £33bn in 2031/32.

The pace of funding growth for the NHS must accelerate after 2020 and take on a greater share of GDP to keep up with patient demand, the Health Foundation has said.

In one of three reports released by the think tank ahead of the general election, researchers found that the UK economy is expected to grow at an average rate of 2.4% each year, meaning the NHS budget would need to increase by at least £33bn in 2031/32.

The Health Foundation has said the extra funding will be needed to cope with the increasing and ageing population, rising chronic disease levels, meet public expectations for health care and fund new technologies and medical advances.

However, the Office of Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) has estimated an extra £68bn is needed to fund the NHS by 2031/32 as they found funding pressures will grow by close to 4% annually.

The report echoes the recommendation made by the House of Lords’ committee on sustainability to set up an independent financial body for the NHS, similar to the OBR, to lay out the long-term financial outlook for health and social care.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: ‘Years of austerity have left the NHS and social care sector in an increasingly perilous financial state.

‘Government funding plans are not keeping pace with demand and cost, and, as a result, these vital services are showing increasing signs of serious strain.

‘Health and social care are vital public services that all of us rely on in times of need. We’ve seen years of funding volatility – going from feast to famine and back again – which is damaging for the long-term planning of services.’

She added that regardless of the outcome of next month’s general election, the NHS is facing ‘big challenges’.

She said: ‘If we are to deliver the quality service people expect, funding will need to rise – not just in the short term – but year on year.’

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